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Ten Myths About Graduate Schemes

By UCL Careers, on 30 October 2015

This blog post orginially appeared on the QM Careers & Enterprise blog

1.Graduate schemes are the most common form of graduate employment.

False – less than 10% of graduate employment is in graduate schemes, most are employed in graduate jobs in companies that do not offer graduate schemes.

2. Graduate schemes are a kind of training, rather than a job.

False – although a lot of graduate schemes have some training courses or induction processes, they are jobs – you will have responsibilities and tasks to do in return for the salary you earn, and will be expected to contribute to the company and not be hand-held from day one.

3. Once you are on a graduate scheme, you are on a career path for life and do not need to make any more major career decisions.

False – a lot of graduates who start with a company on their graduate scheme will choose to move to another company and/or change jobs within five years of starting their job. Even if you stay within the same company, you will continuously need to make career decisions as to what departments you work in, how much responsibility to take on, and whether you want to apply for promotions.

4. Getting into a graduate scheme is easy because they take a lot of applicants in one go.

False – although most graduate schemes do take more than one applicant in each recruitment round, the high number of applicants for graduate schemes means that the selection process is very tough. Companies routinely have over a 1000 applicants for their graduate schemes, and will usually select the best through a lengthy and demanding process including online reasoning tests, application forms and assessment centres.

5. Graduate schemes are only for the private sector.

False – public, not-for-profit organizations such as the NHS, the Metropolitan Police, social work or Teach First also offer graduate schemes.

6. You can wait until you finish your degree to decide whether to apply to a graduate scheme.

False – or at least not if you want to start the scheme within one year of graduating. For most graduate schemes you will apply one year before you start, so if you think a graduate scheme is for you, you should apply in the Autumn term of your final year at University.

7. All that I need to do during uni to have a chance with a graduate scheme is to study hard and get grades.

False – over a third of graduates employed by big companies have done an undergraduate internship or placement with that company. The other two thirds will probably have some good evidence of employability skills such as team work, commercial awareness and time management obtained through volunteering, part-time work or leading a student society.

8. A graduate scheme offer the best chance for career development.

False – although if you are on a graduate scheme you will more likely be working for a bigger company than if you are on a graduate job, in smaller companies you tend to get given more responsibility earlier on.

9. A graduate scheme is the best bet to stay in London.

False – most companies offering graduate schemes require total flexibility in terms of where you work, and the willingness to relocate.

10. Graduate scheme = big bucks.

False – although you might start on a higher salary on a graduate scheme than on a graduate job with a smaller company, promotions and salary increases tend to happen faster in the more flexible, dynamic environment of a smaller company.

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